Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR)-derived extracellular volume (ECV) and tissue tracking strain analyses are proposed as non-invasive methods for quantifying myocardial fibrosis and deformation. This study sought (1) to histologically validate myocardial ECV against the collagen volume fraction (CVF) measured from tissue samples of patients undergoing heart transplantation and (2) to detect the correlations between myocardial systolic strain and the myocardial ECV and histological CVF in patients undergoing heart transplantation.
A total of 12 dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and 10 ischaemic cardiomyopathy (ICM) patients underwent T1 mapping with the Modified Look Locker Inversion recovery (MOLLI) sequence, T2 mapping and ECV. Myocardial systolic strain, including left ventricular global longitudinal (GLS), circumferential (GCS) and radial strain (GRS), were quantified using CMR cine images with tissue tracking analysis software. Tissue samples were collected from each of 16 segments of the explanted hearts and were stained with picrosirius red for histological CVF quantification.
A strong relationship was observed between the global myocardial ECV and histological CVF in the DCM and ICM patients based on a per-patient analysis (r = 0.904 and r = 0.901, respectively, p < 0.001). In the linear mixed-effects regression analysis, ECV correlated well with the histological CVF in the DCM and ICM patients on a per-segment basis (β = 0.838 and β = 0.915, respectively, p < 0.001). In the multivariate linear regression analysis, histological CVF was the strongest independent determinant of ECV in the patients awaiting heart transplantation (standardised β = 0.860, p < 0.001). However, the T2 time, GLS, GCS and GRS showed no significant associations with ECV and CVF in the patients awaiting heart transplantation.
ECV derived from CMR correlated well with histological CVF, indicating its potential as a non-invasive tool for the quantification of myocardial fibrosis. Additionally, impaired myocardial systolic strains were not associated with the ECV and CVF in the patients awaiting heart transplantation.